Evaluating the Wider Outcomes of Schools:complex systems modelling for leadership decisioning

Ruth Deakin Crick, Stephen Barr, Howard Green, David PedderU

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


A continuing challenge for the education system is how to evaluate the wider outcomes of schools. Academic results are important but other, less easily quantifiable, measures of success make for a complete education. For example, the development of students as life-long learners, employability skills, citizenship, self-confidence, teamwork and emotional literacy are widely recognised as essential qualities for individual success in adult life and for social cohesion. Furthermore, these wider measures of success influence each other and emerge over time from complex interactions between students, teachers and leaders and the wider community. Whilst we may be able to create the conditions in which a student may learn and achieve, we cannot, by definition, learn and achieve for them. Unless methods are found to evaluate these broader outcomes, which are able to do justice to learning and achievement as emergent properties of the learner's engagement with his or her world the education system will continue to focus on a single, reductionist measure of school effectiveness: test/exam results. This does violence to the core purpose of education. In this paper we describe the rationale and methodology underpinning a pilot research project that applied hierarchical process modelling to a group of schools as complex living systems, using software developed by engineers at the University of Bristol, called Perimeta. The aim was to generate a stakeholder owned systems design which was better able to account for the full range of outcomes valued by each school, and for the complex processes which facilitate or inhibit them, thus providing a more nuanced leadership decisioning analytic. The project involved three Academies in the UK.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-25
Number of pages25
JournalEducational Management, Administration and Leadership
Issue number25
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jul 2016


  • Leadership
  • Complexity
  • Hierarchical Process Modelling
  • Management
  • Wider Outcomes
  • Leadership Decisioning


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